How self sufficient can we be? Help me make the most of what we've got.(13 Posts)
We've grown veg on and off for years for fun. It's never mattered how much we grew and we have wasted a lot purely because we've not picked it at the right time (I grow but dp cooks and rarely thinks to pick stuff from the garden).
Next year we're likely to have a bit more time and a lot less money. I want the veg garden to be properly productive to reduce our food bills.
The garden is quite small.
We have 5 beds 3x1m - one has sprouts, one has some carrots and the rest are empty; and a 3m square bed with some gooseberries and one remaining asparagus plant and lots ofor space. We also have apples, raspberries, strawberries, black currants damson and plums.
We have one other flower bed where I can sneak some more veg if necessary but really I'd like to overhaul it to make it anext attractive cottagy herbaceous border.
We garden organically.
We eat most veg.
Anyone want to talk me through next year season by season to maximise what we can grow?
I was surprised to see you hadn't had any replies till I saw what time it was.
I'm afraid I clicked because I'm interested, not because I have any advice.
Sorry , I think there is a thread for people with allotments, still in Gardening, which would be helpful for you.
Well, here are what worked well for us:
zucchinis: They are great: you can pick them when they reach supermarket size and you will get more, or you cen leave them on the plant until you need them and they will grow to become massive, threr is no loss if you forget them too long. This summer with 3 plants we had fruits in the fridge from beginning august till past the frost. The bigger ones have a longer shelf life too.
peas and beans are also for ever producing.
Cucumbers:they produced so much the year we planted them we ould not eat them all
disclamer I'm in Canada so YMMV
I would look into growing potatoes in one of those:
Also read up on vertical gardening.
Grow the things you love most but are the most expensive is me of main things to consider. Little point in growing beg that is cheapest to buy, unless it's something that you really think tastes far superior to the bought version
Thanks. We tried squash this year - planted butternut and had some variety self seed. Both produced huge numbers of flowers but no fruit. I confess to not being the biggest fan of courgette but I'm going for a spiraliser for Christmas so I'm sure I can get through a few (dozen!).
Expensive things was the thinking behind asparagus but one crown of 3 is a bit pathetic and the others died... might try again though.
We grew sweetcorn for the first time this year which I picked and left on the side for special to cook and the cat pissed on it which was more than a bit annoying.
What should I be doing now? I'm keeping the weeds down and I'll get the garlic in next week. Are there any other December jobs I should be doing?
What should I be planning for January?
Beetroot - easy to grow and easy to eat.
Come and join us on the allotment thread as there are loads of tips and recipes and all sorts.
Personally I would only bother growing things you like to eat. If you don't like courgettes then don't grow very many as they are the kind of thing you can get very sick of very quickly.
Do you grow many beans? We grew runners and french beans this summer and froze loads of them. We're still eating our way through them. Also peas.
The plants that will do well are things like carrots, onions and potatoes but they are cheap to buy so depends on how much space you have on your plot.
Tomatoes - although I've given up because mine always get blight.
Beetroot, leeks, cabbages.
I grew mixed salad leaves this year which you could grow as a cut and come again. This worked quite well as we didn't have several lettuces all ripening at the same time.
I think as far as actually eating what you're growing it's about looking up recipes for the vegetables then planning the rest of the meal around the vegetables. So we've been eating a couple of fish tray bake recipes which have beans because we grew so many beans. This is tricky to get right and I didn't have to point out to my H several times that if we didn't eat something now it wouldn't still be there in a week's time when we fancy it (which is why growing things you like is good).
I also have made jam to deal with fruit gluts. It's actually surprisingly easy.
cedar is right - only grow what you like. Though I will add, as you probably know, home grown always tastes different to bought.( I grew sweetcorn for the first time this year, and totally converted my DH to it!) I would also add , make use of winter. This is when veg are at the most expensive. sprouting broccoli (not calabrese, though that is lovely too) is a great one to grow- never cheap in the shops, and harvests in the toughest of weather - varieties will crop from September right through to April if you choose carefully. I am a big fan of leeks as well. We also like kale in winter, this keeps coming, and is nice for some really good greens if you pick it young and tender. In summer, peas and french beans-especially beans, as they grow up, so use less space in the soil.
One of the things with raised beds is that you can get loads of free manure in and then pack 'em with more tightly-planted crops than open ground. You definitely want to be making the most of the space you have. Another idea is to install arches across the spaces between the beds, which will allow you to make use of pathway space above your heads for climbing beans (you can buy cheap arches for a fiver or so on Amazon sometimes). Always grow a 'catch crop' (a fast-growing, smaller crop that will utilise space between larger crops while the larger crops are small) and try to get in two crops a year, one for winter, one for summer. Rotate, rotate, rotate, as this will keep your soil productive - and grow in grids not rows with a view to filling every inch of earth. Plants seem to like being with other plants that are the same!
Though I fear that your area will be too small to allow you to be self-sufficient, there is no reason you can't grow enough to cut down your food bills and ease things up a little. I'd recommend crops that have heavy yield to area ratios and that aren't cheap to buy - homegrown potatoes and onions are lovely, but they're also available cheaply from supermarkets whereas chard, fresh peas, fresh beetroot, kohl rabi, broad beans and courgettes are often more expensive.
Where is this allotment thread of which you speak?
Yes to vertical veg/ square ft gardening.
Yes to raised beds (drainage is shocking chez Grumpy cos I'm in a dip).
Yes to saving £ by growing expensive to buy stuff like rasps/ blueberries (both make excellent
wine jam if you end up with tons of it).
Yes Yes YES to getting my gardening shit together this year!!!
Here's the link! Do come join us!
You can grow runner beans and french beans up canes or fencing,some runner flowers are very pretty,both freeze well so no waste.You could try a few spagetti sqush up too,not too many.I grow courgettes but pick at about 4inch as they are tender and can be sliced raw into salads,courgette fritters are eaten by my courgette hating12 yr old dd.I have given up on butternut as weather in the uk. Is often not good enough also they take up a lot of room.The best thing to do in january is get lots of seed catalogues and curl up on the sofa and plan.Check out Wilcos,aldi and pound shops for cheap seed and check the back of all seed packetz to see how many seeds there are as some come as a bit of a shock.If the growing itch gets too strong you caan start tomatoes and chillis on a window sill in febuary and loose salad leaves .You can get neat window sill propagators that will last for years
So feet up now,seed catalogues,last of the Christmas chocolate dreaming of lovely veg and seed saving.
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